Tag Archive for norway

English etiquette: a no-no in Norway

With hands up, eyes cast down and cheeks blushing I need to apologise for being a bad blogger. I’ve been living in Oslo for three months now and have only posted twice but I pledge to you that from now on I’ll be blogging every Tuesday.

I’m kicking this pattern off with an ironic post: bad manners. Every country has its cultural stereotype and for Norway, it’s that the manners are as cold as the climate. For England it’s that we’re tea-drinking snobs or chavs, depending on if you live in the South or North, who never visit a dentist.

If you’re expecting me to say that these generalisations are completely wrong, then I’m sorry. Wow, it feels refreshing to say that. If I say it in Oslo, the average Norwegian will laugh and look/run away. Here’s the thing – stereotypes exist for a reason. They form and take shape when you come across a new culture and don’t take the time to understand the quirks that make it different.

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Rule, Britannia?

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Patriotism is not my best asset. My nearests and dearests will know that I still get the British National Anthem confused with Rule, Britannia! and that I was embarassed to be seen with the new Firefly beverage in Oslo: choosing between the tantalising taste of Bramley Apple & Ginger and parading the Union Jack was a genuine predicament for me. Subsequently, it came as a surprise when I felt my ego deflate alongside with the vision of swanning into Norway and being given a job on behalf of my British accent and encyclopedic knowledge of tea. Of course, I hadn’t realised how reliant I was on my nationality to easily be granted access to Norway until I was at the Oslo tax office, waiting in a long queue of…and that’s when it dawned on me: “I’m an immigrant.” After years of being stuck in the British mindset of associating immigrants with Eastern Europeans, the neon flashing word of ‘arrogance’ came to give me a well-deserved slap.

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